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At Home Worship for Sunday April 5th, 2020
(Take a moment to center yourself knowing that this time is a worship time and that God is present with you)

Call to Worship

This is the day that the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good;
God’s steadfast love endures forever.
Let us worship God!

Song:          “Jesus, Remember Me”  2x

Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom.
Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom.

Call to Confession

Let us face this day of palms and Jesus’ upcoming passion with honesty, confessing our sin before God.

Prayer of Confession

Holy God, sure of your faithfulness even in your dying, comforted by your compassion toward your people in every age, we beg your mercy for our imperfect gratitude.  We have looked to you for paltry favors, when you have given everything.  We have withheld from your people, our neighbors, and from your creation, our Earth, the care and tending they deserve.  We have rejected the cornerstone you sent to build a people of righteousness even here, today.  Forgive our failings.  Heal what we have broken, nurture what we have neglected, and lead us to your vision, so that we may know the peace of wholeness in you; in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

Your God has come to you, humble, in the form of a slave, to free you from the weight of sin and death.  Jesus’ obedient suffering has released you.  Your sins are forgiven, in the name of the one who is exalted beyond what we can comprehend; Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Know in your heart today that you are forgiven and be at peace.

Scripture Reading: Mark 11:1-11

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it.  If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’  They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street.  As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’  They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it.  Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.  Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.  Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna!
                            Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
                            Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Reflection with Pastor Heather

Well, this is a first.  Palm Sunday with no palm processional and no church service.  This will be a Holy Week to remember!  Much like that first Holy Week, we don’t know what is happening, we don’t know what to expect, and we really have to rely on our faith to get through each day.

Our narrative lectionary is jumping back a few chapters to tell the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  You know this story well as we read a version of it every year.  Not every gospel mentions the waving of palms.  Mark tells us that many people spread their cloaks on the road and others spread leafy branches they cut in the fields.  You can imagine folks just grabbed what was easily at hand.  We will do the same in a little bit as we sing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor.”

It’s hard to say what exactly is going on here.  This is commonly called the triumphal entry but we know there is really nothing triumphal about riding on a colt.  In the ancient world a horse was a tool for war.  A colt is pretty small and useless.  You’ve heard me preach before about Pilate’s official entry with many horses and chariots on the other side of the city on the same day.  But telling a story about political theater doesn’t offer us much hope in our own dark times.

It’s interesting to look at these familiar texts through the new lens of Coronavirus and stay-at-home orders.  The people gathered outside Jerusalem that morning were hungry for God.  I can imagine them following Jesus into the city crying “Hosanna!” which sounds like joy but can also mean “Save us!”  The people were eager for change, they were anticipating triumph and maybe even conflict.  If Jesus was the chosen Messiah then this Passover in Jerusalem would be powerful, it would be one to remember.  It certainly was.

We too are hungry for God today.  We too are following after Jesus crying “Save us!”  Like the Jews in Jesus’ time, we never know when death might be hiding around the corner.  They were in fear of an angry Roman guard sneaking up on them.  We are in fear of an invisible foe sneaking up on us.  What if their following of Jesus led their loved ones to suffer the wrath of the Romans?  What if something we do brings the virus into the homes of those we love?  Like the Jews in Jesus’ time we are afraid.  We want God to fix it all.  We want to shout “Hosanna” as God makes the world right again.  But some days all we can do is whisper “Save us” in our prayers.

We know how the story ends.  Before we can celebrate Easter next Sunday (at home again) Jesus will be arrested, tortured, and killed.  The people of God were longing for the promised reign of God, but it cannot be achieved without first going through suffering and death.  There is no Easter without the cross.

Similarly, we must move through this current crisis.  There is no avoiding, no going around, and no way to fast forward until the day we have a vaccine.  We must take the road ahead of us.  And we know that for some of us, it will be a road of suffering and death.  This will not be an easy season, but God is with us.

This Palm Sunday, as we wonder anew on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, I want to encourage you once again to think about what it means to worship a God who knows suffering.  The people of God have always cried out for hope and mercy.  We have always cried “Save us!” in the same breath as our “Hosannas!”.  We have always looked to God for healing and hope.  And we have always found God with us, even in our darkest places, even when we are afraid, even when we face death.

This is the triumph of our faith.  Next Sunday we will celebrate the fact that death has no hold on our God.  This God is one who must be celebrated.  With branches cut from the nearby fields or with whatever else we might have on hand.  This God is with us, even to the point of death.  This God brings new life, even when the world has lost hope.  To this ever present, ever loving, ever alive God we shout “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  Amen.

Prayers

Holy God, you reveal the truth about your people and the ways of our world in the suffering of the Son and his steadfast love.  Show us again the image of humility you desire for us, and teach us obedience, so that self-emptying may be our pathway.

We pray today for our world in isolation.  We pray for doctors and nurses on the front lines, may they have all the safety equipment that they need and may they avoid contracting this virus.  We pray for all those at home this day, especially for those whose health is vulnerable due to age or illness, or whose home is not a safe place.  We pray for the city of New York as it groans under the weight of this pandemic.  We pray for scientists at work today to develop testing kits, medicine for treatments, and a much needed vaccine.

God, we know that you are with us in love.  When the world seems to be falling apart help us to trust in you.  Help us to feel confidence in your presence this day.  Help us to remember that your steadfast love endures forever.

We ask all this in the name of Jesus the Christ, the one who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.

Song: “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”

All glory, laud, and honor to thee Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring!

Thou art the King of Israel, thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s name comest, the King and blessed One.

All glory, laud, and honor to thee Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring!

The people of the Hebrews with palms before thee went;
Our praise and prayers and anthems before thee we present.

All glory, laud, and honor to thee Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring!

To thee, before thy passion, they sang their hymns of praise;
To thee, now high exalted, our melody we raise.

All glory, laud, and honor to thee Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring!

Thou didst accept their praises; accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest, thou good and gracious King!

All glory, laud, and honor to thee Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring!


Blessing

Know today that you are blessed and loved!
By the love of God,
the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
now and forever!  Amen.

What’s missing . . .

Passing the Peace: Please phone a friend and check on them.  Can you help out one of our more vulnerable members by running errands?  Call or text Pastor Heather if you need more info or if you need help. 

Offering: Please don’t forget your offering.  We still have bills to pay at the church.  If you want to make an offering to our continued mission and ministry you can mail a check to the church at PO Drawer E Warrensburg, MO 64093.